8 Week Intense Back Workout

This 8 week intense back workout uses variation and intensity techniques to really get some serious growth in your back muscles! Bust through plateaus!

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Single Muscle Group
8 weeks
30-45 minutes
Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables
Male & Female
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Workout Description

Welcome to the 8 week intense back workout! This workout has been adapted from my 8 week intense back workout article. This back workout uses variety and intensity to really hit the back hard and make those stubborn muscle grow!

You should do this workout once per week along with the rest of your training. There are a total of 4 different workouts below, these need to be cycled over 8 weeks as instructed.

Workout Notes:

  1. Perform a 5 minute cardio warm-up before each workout.
  2. Perform 2 light sets before starting working phase.
  3. Strict technique on all exercises. (see back exercises)
  4. Aim to improve at least one aspect of your workout each week.

Weekly Workout Routines:

Workout #1 - Weeks 1 and 5
Exercise Sets Reps
Wide grip pull ups 4 MAX
Superset lat pull down / seated row 4 10 on each exercise
Bent over barbell row 4 10
Workout #2 - Weeks 2 and 6
Exercise Sets Reps
Assisted pull ups / lat pull downs superset 4 15 pull up / 10 pull down
Seated row drop set 3 MAX
Bodyweight row 4 10, 10, 8, 6
One arm cable row (3-1-3 rep timing) 3 10
Workout #3 - Weeks 3 and 7
Exercise Sets Reps
Wide grip pull ups 4 MAX, 10, 8, 8
Lat pull downs 3 10, 10, 10
Bent over row 4 8, 6, 6, 5
One arm cable row (3-1-3 rep timing) 4 15
Workout #4 - Weeks 4 and 8
Exercise Sets Reps
Tri set: Assisted pull ups/lat pull down/seated row 3 10 on each exercise
Straight arm lat pull down (2-1-2 rep timing) 3 12
Bodyweight row 3 MAX

185 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Sun, 09/28/2014 - 10:31

being a beginner @ weight trainning and as a bloke who weighs 150 Kg's i struggle to do chin ups, is there another excercise i can do instead?

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Posted Fri, 03/28/2014 - 19:42

Hi Steve, i got a question.. Would you suggest to do this workout together with this https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/power-muscle-burn-bicep-worko... bicep workout?

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Posted Tue, 01/14/2014 - 12:07

Hey Steve just want to know what is the (3-1-3 rep timing)?

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Posted Mon, 12/16/2013 - 02:12
Shailendra Wig Lama

hi steve, i want to add few power exercises like deadlift and t-bar rows for more shred, is it good to add this two exercises in my workout...

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Posted Mon, 12/02/2013 - 09:54
RIshi Roy

hey steve wanna know whats rest between exercises

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Posted Tue, 08/27/2013 - 13:54
George Martin

It seems no back workout is complete without deadlifts. Is there a place for those in this workout? Substitution or too much?

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Posted Sun, 07/21/2013 - 18:44

The only thing that gets me is the pull ups, what if I can only do one?

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Posted Wed, 06/19/2013 - 23:45

Should this routine be cycled off and on or is it fine to keep doing? I've definitely seen great results.

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Posted Mon, 06/03/2013 - 11:24

Hey Steve can I combine the following back work out with chest ?

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Posted Wed, 05/29/2013 - 18:31

Hi I've just started at the gym an no nothing an get no help I know ur prob going to thing I'm a dumb shit for asking but can u pls tell me what is a rep an what is a set I would like to get into it hard core but need some help thank you .

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Posted Mon, 05/20/2013 - 04:18

Hi Steve,
Please tell me what means Weeks 1 and 5 or Weeks 2 and 6 - is it about weight?

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Posted Tue, 04/09/2013 - 22:40

Everyone states decrease volume for a single muscle twice a wee! Well I tried that for one month an my body actually decreased everything by ten percent.. The best workouts are not from a scientific fact but how your own personal body adapts to working out.. Best plan for me is once a week but hard for a solid hour and ten min for a major muscle group and thirty minutes for your bis tris calves or abs.. Do what your body shows in best result.. Just change between barbell and db.. Thanks

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Posted Sun, 12/16/2012 - 10:51
Rob Ramer

How much time between sets? Rest periods?

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Posted Sat, 12/08/2012 - 10:54

Hey Steve, I am wondering would it be all the same to do assited pull-ups in place of a wide grip pull-up?

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Posted Tue, 11/20/2012 - 04:41

How much rest in between sets?

mnsjason's picture
Posted Thu, 11/29/2012 - 18:24

Generally, 90 to 120 seconds between higher rep sets. You'll want to rest 3-5 minutes for extremely taxing sets.

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Posted Fri, 11/16/2012 - 12:53

When you do a superset you don't rest when you move to the next exercise?? And does it count as 1 set when you do both exercises or 2

Joey's picture
Posted Fri, 11/30/2012 - 12:11

No rest. After you complete each exercise in the drop set you will have finished 1 set.

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Posted Sun, 11/04/2012 - 21:05

Hi Steve,

Just wondering, for the week 2&6 workouts, for the Seated Row Drop Set, can you please explain that a little more? I understand the drop set, but is it 3 sets and then do a fourth drop set on the last set or do a drop set after each set? Also how many reps and weight for each set? Just need a little more explanation, thanks!

Joey's picture
Posted Fri, 11/30/2012 - 12:16

You would do all three sets as drop sets. Here is a good example of what they might look like: "load with a weight you can get 6 reps with, fail, lower the weight by 20% ( example: if you start with 100 pounds, fail and drop 20 pounds, this is 20%), rep out to failure, drop 20% again and rep out one more time, this is one set".

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Posted Sun, 10/21/2012 - 14:31

What should I do if I am just starting to work on pull-ups and I cant do any?

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Posted Thu, 10/18/2012 - 14:56

I love doing pull ups and I normally can do 12-15 per set the correct way unlike most. I had set a goal for myself of being able to do 25 pull ups in one set correctly. I'm now experiencing major pain on the inside of my elbows. It feels like somebody is driving a nails in them when doing pull ups. What can I do to elevate the pain and reach my goal.

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Posted Mon, 10/08/2012 - 07:02

Where are the dead lifts?

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Posted Fri, 10/05/2012 - 12:24

I wondering, when you for example do 3 sets @ 10 reps per set what kind of weight/% should you be using. Are you trying to increase weight with each set so that your last set is heavy enough that you can just squeeze out the 10th rep?
Do you start heavier and in the fashion drop weight each set so that you can again barely squeeze out that 10th rep. Or do you do the same weight for all 3 at a percentage of your 1 rep max?

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Posted Tue, 09/18/2012 - 19:00

Hi Steve,

I am currently only a Tuesday and Saturday back schedule. Would it be okay doing heavy sets on Tuesday then do one of the proposed workout routines in the article or would that be counter productive?


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Posted Sat, 09/08/2012 - 04:52

How come deadlifts are not a part of this routine? It's like the most important and efficient exercise after all. :o

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Posted Thu, 07/26/2012 - 12:10

great workout plan, I can feel the muscles growing just by reading the weekly routine, haha. Thanks for the advice.

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Posted Tue, 06/05/2012 - 05:37

Hi, I've been training for about 5 years and just looking for new programs. Wanting to try this one, but just finding the amount of sets on the first day quite low. Is it ok to add another exercise of 4 sets after it or would you consider it too much even for someone who has been training for a while?

my current schedule is as follows,

- mon: chest, biceps
- wed: shoulders, abs
- friday back, triceps
- sun: quads, hamstrings, calves

overall I'm pretty happy but arms are not where I want them (I have long arms as well...). Anything you see i can do to improve arms?

Many Thanks, love the site,

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Posted Tue, 04/24/2012 - 14:58

What is a super set, drop set, 2-1-2, and 3-1-3 timing mean?

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Posted Sat, 03/24/2012 - 14:37
Elliot Nicholls

Hi steve

I want to do this as a weekly workout instead of doing it just once a week. SO ding it 3-4 times because myback is the least developed and I need to develop it a lot more. Would this be ok?


Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 03/27/2012 - 14:36

No. Volume is not the key. Build strength. Adding volume when you have not built a substantial amount of strength is a waste of time. Get stronger first.

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Posted Sun, 03/04/2012 - 17:45

Hi Steve. I want to start your back workout tomorrow. However, my gym does not have free barbells available. What excercise's can I do to replace the bent over barbell row and the body weight row?

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Posted Wed, 02/29/2012 - 11:50

I do 7 sets wide grip pull ups with different ab exercises in between each set for rest. Each set I average 9 to 12 reps, decreasing from 12 and down the more sets I do. I then switch my grip to underhand chin-up style pullups superset those with assisted wide grip pullups to failure, I preform 5 sets like that. I then utilize the seated hammer strength row machine superset that with hammer strength pulldown machine. Everyother set of the afore mentioned I do chin ups, in between all sets I am doing abs to rest my back muscles. i then finish up with drop sets of reverse flyes. I don't know if it's too much or what. My diet is high protien low carb, I use post workout and have rcently started cycling DR1 a leaning agent as well as testosterone booster. I need a little insight to say the least, I feel tired alot.

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Posted Sun, 01/29/2012 - 23:48

Question on Wide grip pull ups,
My back muscles are a very weak point and thus I need to work. Having said that, for the Wide grip pull ups, i plan to use an assist machine to help me build it up. So what number of pull ups do you think I should aim for with X amount of weight offseting? Example, use 40bs off set and do 6-12, 8-10, or still MAX?
I ask this only becuase I would like an idea of how to gage my gains from week to week, and I dont want to under or over work my back. Thanks in advance Steve.

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Posted Thu, 01/19/2012 - 11:27

oh sorry, what for the drop sets - what are your guidelines?



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Posted Thu, 01/19/2012 - 11:26

What are your guidelines for the superset?

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Posted Tue, 01/03/2012 - 20:28
anuj upadhyay

hi steve,

i'm 6 weeks through with this program (after consulting my trainer) and so far it has helped a lot, thanks !! I have a question however, while doing the tri-set, suppose i've completed the 3 exercises with 10 reps, will that count as three sets or do i have to go two more times ???

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Posted Tue, 01/03/2012 - 20:17

Hey Steve,

Weeks 3 and 7 after bent over row can i do one arm dumbell row? I dont have cable on my machine.


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Posted Sat, 12/31/2011 - 23:50

Hi Steve,

Can you recommend supplements that I should be using if I wanted to train for a figure competition? I'm currently taking fish oil, flaxseed Oxy Elite as a fat burner and one a day multivitamin. Also what can I take to have more energy during my workouts.


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Posted Tue, 12/13/2011 - 11:21
Brian H

I did week two of the back workout today, but I had a hard time with the bodyweight row. I was unable to pull myself all the way up to the bar, and by the 2nd set, could only do 5-6.

Is there any exercise I can replace this with until my back strength allows me to properly get 10 reps of the bodyweight row?

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 12/16/2011 - 15:55

I recommend sticking with it and trying to add reps when you can.

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Posted Thu, 12/01/2011 - 12:56

Do you have similiar work outs for Chest, legs and arms?

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 12/16/2011 - 15:53

Check out our workouts section. We have quite a few for each bodypart:


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Posted Sun, 11/20/2011 - 01:41

I love ur side I have been working out for a year n searching for info n asking question from different trainer at diffrent gym n they had a hard time to give out info unless u sigen up for a lot of session n they still they don't tell u everything . I am just amazed about ur nutrition how much to eat n how to judge the result n act upon them again it's amazing .. I wonder what's behind all of this info u put out here:-)

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Posted Thu, 11/10/2011 - 19:01

When you do a super set is that 4 sets per excercise or 4 sets total?

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 11/28/2011 - 13:17

4 sets per exercise.

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Posted Wed, 11/09/2011 - 19:19

hey steve,
im trying to gain mass.would this back routine be good for what my goal is?or should i stick to a more heavy wieght less rep sort of workout?

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 11/28/2011 - 13:16

This workout can help you reach your goals. You want to always push yourself on every set to maximize muscle gains. Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight.

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Posted Sun, 01/29/2012 - 23:56

When you say on a set, you mean just one of them correct> not meaning 10 reps on all the sets?
Silly question, I know, but it can get confusing sometimes. Thanks steve

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Posted Fri, 11/04/2011 - 13:03

Steve do you think it is alright to do an intense chest routine before this back workout? Maybe do this workout as a superset with my chest routine i.e. bench press followed immediately by wide grip pullups, rest 60 to 90 secs then repeat.